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— Benton County Judge Dave Bisbee expects two meetings next week will lay groundwork for initiating a building plan for the county.

Bisbee talked about the plan Friday at a town hall meeting held at the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.

The building plan will be on the agendas of Tuesday’s Committee of 13 and Finance Committee meetings.

Bisbee and justices of peace are considering plans for the construction of juvenile detention center and relocation of the health unit.

Bisbee targeted a new juvenile detention center as his top priority.

Officials are considering purchase of a building at 2151 S.W. Runway Drive in Bentonville for $1.2 million. It would house juvenile probation offices and juvenile court system. A detention facility would be constructed adjacent to the building.

County officials are also considering whether to move the health unit to the Center for Nonprofits in Rogers. Some member voiced concern with that location since the county would lease space.

Bisbee said Friday representatives of the Center for Nonprofits may bring forward another proposal that would give the county an ownership position.

If the health unit is relocated then the unit’s current site could house offices for juvenile courts and probation. A juvenile detention facility would then be built next to the building, Bisbee said.

Bisbee said he believes there is a 50/50 chance the health unit will be relocated.

Bisbee stressed the county is financially in a position to undertake the building projects.

Bisbee said he will ask justices to set an amount to hold in reserve for the county. The county currently has $3.5million in operating money and state law requires the county to hold $4 million in a holdback account, Bisbee said.

“The problem is if we spend the $4 million on an emergency then we have to come up with another $4 million next year,” he said.

Bisbee said he will ask the justices to keep another $2 million, bringing the total amount in reserves to $9.5 million.

Bisbee said the county in 2011 is expected to lose $2.8 million in sales tax collectionafter the 2010 census is certified.

Bob Kossieck questioned Bisbee on why the county does not keep the entire amount collected from the one percent county sales tax.

Bisbee explained state law requires the county to distribute a share of the money collected to municipalities. Bisbee said the county keeps 26 percent of the county sales tax but will only receive 19 percent in 2011.

“I’m cutting the budget now so I don’t have to cut it in 2011,” Bisbee said.

News, Pages 8 on 11/25/2009

Print Headline: Bisbee talks building plans for county

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